Kevin Shattenkirk began this Rangers three-game homestand as a healthy scratch. He ended it as the man who delivered the Rangers’ second win of the season, punctuating a great, redemptive performance with the shootout goal that produced a 3-2 victory Tuesday night over the Avalanche.
Shattenkirk, who had assists on both of the Rangers’ goals in regulation, was the third and final shooter for the Blueshirts in the tiebreaker, and he beat Semyon Varlamov to give the Rangers (2-4-0) a 2-1 lead in the shootout. Henrik Lundqvist stopped Gabriel Landeskog to secure the victory.
“It’s very satisfying,’’ Shattenkirk said of his standout performance following his being left out of the lineup Thursday when the Rangers beat San Jose in overtime. “I’ve got to thank my teammates, because they were with me every step of the way, patting me on the back. Last Thursday was a tough pill to swallow, but I think it helped me. And when you get to sit back and analyze the game a little bit, realize where you need to be better, it’s important that you take that and learn from it.’’
Shattenkirk sat out only that one game. Coach David Quinn told anybody who would listen that the benching had more to do with getting the defenseman’s head right – that he’d been physically fine, but was holding back a little after having missed the second half of last season after knee surgery. Shattenkirk played in the 2-1 loss to Edmonton Saturday before his breakout performance against Colorado.
“He shows what a pro is,’’ Lundqvist said of Shattenkirk. “Not a lot of guys can respond the way he did. He proves that, you know, you sit him out, he comes back with two really strong games. And that just proves what he’s made of. I’m happy for him. He played great today, and even last game. I like when I see guys respond like that. I love it. No complaints, it’s just you go out hard and play your game, and you just raise your level of play and make a difference for the team and that’s the way a pro handles it.’’
Shattenkirk set up the Rangers' first goal, on a first- period power play, when he shot a puck that Chris Kreider tipped past Varlomov for his third goal of the season. After Quinn had been stressing the need to shoot, the Rangers fired 43 shots – 19 in the first period, and four in the overtime, which they dominated.
Colorado (3-1-2) fought back in the second period and tied it at 1 on a power play tip-in by Landeskog. Kevin Hayes restored the lead on a wicked one-timer at 10:53 of the period. But after Lundqvist made two huge back-to-back saves with time running down in the second, Nathan MacKinnon tied it at 2 with 12.6 seconds left in the period. The teams would battle through a scoreless third, sending the game to overtime.
Speaking of Shattenkirk, Kreider said: “He’s obviously a huge part of our team, generating offense from the back end, quarterbacking the power play from the top; doing his best T.J. Oshie in the shootout. And even when he wasn’t in the lineup, we were unbelievably impressed with his approach and his attitude. Truly a leader and a mature guy… I can’t say enough good things about him. I’m really happy for him. He deserves it. He works hard.’’